New Tubman Museum in Macon slated to open on May 16
It’s been a long time coming — nearly 12 years if you’ve been counting.
“What we’re becoming is one part traditional museum, one part cultural arts center,” Executive Director Andy Ambrose said.
A lot of energy, brick and mortar, and money have gone into the project.
“Community support is critical for any community organization, and particularly for non-profits because our goal is not to enrich the investors, our goal is to enrich the community,” Ambrose said.
He says he’s finally seeing the light at the end of what’s been a long, long tunnel.
“In terms of the finances, we’ve gone into this really planning and gathering revenues that we need to have help support us,” Ambrose said.
The Tubman Museum in the Cherry Street Plaza in Macon is filled with white walls and empty space — a blank canvas for staff to showcase one of a kind artwork.
“We’ll get the opportunity to expand our Harriet Tubman exhibit, add more works to that,” Jeffrey Bruce, the director of exhibitions and collections, said.
After two funding campaigns and budget concerns, the nearly $20 million, 49,000 square foot facility is almost ready for its first guests.
“The vast majority of funding from what I’ve seen for both the first capital campaign and for this campaign has been local and that’s very reassuring,” Ambrose said.
Local investors and funding from grants and penny sales tax dollars helped build the new museum.
Operating costs for the old museum on Walnut Street are at about $650,000 according to Ambrose. New operating costs are projected to be at about $900,000.
“The biggest advantage of this space is actual space,” Bruce said as he began to laugh.
Curators are hoping to take advantage of every inch, showcasing periodic pieces and sculptures. It’s something they haven’t been able to do before.
“I don’t know if they’ve seen them at all – a lot of it. So it’s really an opportunity. The space, the new space, the expanded space is going to give us the opportunity to bring these objects out,” Bruce said.
The new space will also serve as a multipurpose facility to host events — another revenue source for the museum in addition to revenue from museum admission which is set currently at $5.
A slow, steady transition — the staffers can’t wait for you to see.
The museum currently has about seven full-time staff members including Ambrose and Bruce. Ambrose says the new facility will allow for more, possibly part-time positions at the museum as well as volunteer positions.
The Tubman Museum will open the same weekend as its Pan-African Festival on May 16-17. Staff and volunteers are closing the old museum on Walnut Street on April 17th.